Officer Michael Cuellar was fired after it was learned he had failed a Intoxilyzer Operator test on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. His supervisor at the time, Sergeant Steve Urias, was given a 60 day suspension for not reporting the incident for almost a year.
Cuellar was required to complete the test to maintain his certification to operate the test and administer it to suspects. The test results indicated his blood alcohol concentration was 0.064. The legal driving limit is 0.08.
Three days after the test the blood alcohol concentration results were discovered by the Department of Public Safety. They then brought it to the attention of Austin Police Department Lt. Blake Johnson. The report then prompted an internal investigation.
Cuellar told investigators he drank three glasses of vodka and two glasses of wine the night before his 5:45 a.m. shift. He went on to say that he regularly drank this much four nights a week.
The Austin Police Department’s scientific director determined that at 5:30 a.m. Officer Cuellar’s alcohol concentration was at least 0.084, which is more than the legal limit to drive of 0.08. At the time that Cuellar left his home he was legally drunk driving.
Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said Cuellar will not face any criminal charges but that his actions warrant an indefinite suspension. His actions ultimately resulted in termination.
“Rather [than] notify a supervisor via telephone, he again endangered himself and the public that morning by driving an APD patrol vehicle.”
If you are asking why he isn’t being charged, that is a great question! Cuellar admitted to driving, the tests prove his blood alcohol concentration was above the legal limit and we are still in the statute of limitations for charges to be filed. That is all that would be required to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Hell, Cuellar’s actions in continuing to drive his patrol vehicle substantiate charges for deadly conduct, reckless driving, and a litany of other dangerous conduct charges under the Texas Penal Code. Perhaps APD believes being fired is punishment enough. But for thousands of arrested individuals who lost their jobs waiting in jail pending charges, spending thousands on attorneys and bonds, thousands on probation conditions, and all the other intensive requirements, Cuellar’s termination seems like a slap on the wrist.
As for Cuellar’s supervisor, Sgt. Urias, he will be on one-year probation and if he gets another violation during his probation, the sergeant will be fired without the right to appeal.
Perhaps law enforcement will continue to skirt responsibility for this type of reckless behavior, but If you find yourself with a DWI charge and need of an Austin criminal defense attorney give us a call, they are likely not going to let you off with this kind of slap on the wrist!